Peter Philips: Cantiones sacrae octonis vocibus (1613)

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The Englishman Peter Philips spent most of his life abroad, and was celebrated all over Europe in his day. Despite this, Philips’s music has been neglected since his death in 1628—of his immense output of vocal music, to this day most people know only a handful of motets from the five-voice Cantiones sacrae (1612). Although an Englishman, Philips lived in Brussels in exile because of his Catholic faith and, following a period of study in Italy, his compositions took on a distinctly southern European style.
 For this recording all new editions were prepared by former Royal Holloway Director of Chapel Music, Prof. Lionel Pike.

The present recording of half of the companion volume of eight-voice motets seeks to remedy this situation, and was released to mark 400 years since its first publication. This album presents a number of premiere recordings.

These triumphant and highly Italianate settings are performed by The Choir of Royal Holloway, joined by The English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble, who have gilded so many choral recordings of the music of Gabrieli and Monteverdi in the past to recreate the sounds of the early 17th century. 



The Choir of Royal Holloway is a fine one on this showing … the overall sound full and well balanced but not overpowering … The English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble do a fine job, ornamenting their lines judiciously without upstaging the singers … a very enjoyable portrait of a composer whose name deserves to be better known’ (Gramophone)

The Royal Holloway Choir is adept and musical and, at its best, can pull off splendid performances as we can hear in the opening Benedictus Deus noster where voices and instruments combine … the highlight of the album is the shapely and effective performance of Caecilia virgo which makes the most of the timbral contrast between the groups. And the disc ends with a version of Hodie nobis that is full of panache’ (BBC Music Magazine)

Philips, an English recusant, settled in Brussels and knew Brueghel and Rubens well, his music celebrated in artistic circles as an engine of the Counter-Reformation. These delightfully rich eight-part motets from 1613 are sung here to mark their 400th anniversary, with stately cornetts and sackbuts enhancing the majesty. Rupert Gough and his fresh young voices make a convincing case for these unjustly neglected works (The Observer)


Hyperion, January 2012

St. Alban's, Holborn

Produver: Adrian Peacock

Engineer: David Hinitt

Released: March 2013